Last Wednesday it was cool enough to run outside. I hadn’t run in 18 months, at least, but I decided to go out. As I was putting on my shoes, my older son (he’s 9) asked where I was going. He asked if he could come with me, so I asked if he wanted to train for a 5K. He said yes, so I told him about the Couch to 5K plan, and we looked it up on my phone, and he put on his shoes and we were off.
We didn’t have a stopwatch, so we counted off our intervals on our fingers. While we were doing the walking intervals we talked about the things he learned about running from his gym teacher/track coach last year. (He’d joined the track team in third grade because track kids got to leave class to go to meets.) He told me we shouldn’t run too fast during our running spurts, because if we did “we’d be tempted to cheat.” Then he told me about the kids on the team who would cheat by running diagonals instead of curves on their track route. He was outraged by both the cheating and their not getting caught.
At the point at which I was getting heavy legs and starting to think I was done with the whole exercise thing, he said, “Mom, this is fun!” And what kind of jerk doesn’t get all pumped up by that? So we kept on going.
And we talked about running a 5K. He asked how long it would take, and how far 5K is in miles, and if the winners win prizes. We talked about when we thought we’d be ready to run, and that he wanted his dad and Grandma (my mom) to watch him finish. Since then we’ve run two more times, to finish the first week of the plan. He tells me he wishes we could run every day, and that he doesn’t want me to train without him.
I had no idea. I know every freckle on his face, and can predict his reaction to every song that comes on the radio, and I know what jokes he’ll think are funny. But I had no idea he liked to run so much. And now that I know, I can’t let him down by stopping. So I guess I’m a runner now, because he is, and he still needs me to run with him.
These are the things I never knew. Even when I understood about the nursing and the soothing and the tantrums and the setting boundaries. I didn’t know what it was going to be like to have a child who is fully an autonomous person with passions that need to be facilitated. I didn’t know what it was going to be like to love someone so much that I’d go running on the cracked sidewalks in the August humidity and know I’d be going out in another two days, even if I didn’t want to. Buying him books about WWII history was one thing, but this is my body, which I thought I got back when he weaned. But here is my body, again for you, my precious child who poops rainbows. Let’s run.